Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"I just want love. Is that so awful? A kind touch, warm arms to wrap around me--isn't that normal?" Tears streamed down her cheeks and she enclosed herself in her own hollow embrace--as if that could ease the chill.

I looked at my friend and my heart echoed her words, "Sure Sara, everybody wants that. But the way you're going about're losing your focus. How will you survive without a job? What about your kids?"

She looked so fragile. Cool gray eyes clouded over with exhaustion and depression, I felt for her. I really did. It was tough to be a single mother. I knew she was looking for a lifeline--for something that would make her life make sense. She faced me boldly, "I had it once. Real love--I felt in my soul --like quiet poetry washing over me. So simple yet so right. I felt it. I know what it is. I crave it Laurie."

I walked up to her then and shook her shoulders. Something had to get her attention. "You are losing everything! You've no money, no food, no electricity, you're gonna be evicted from your apartment.Where will you take your children? How will you live? You haven't even packed a box. How long before the state takes your kids and locks you in the loony bin? You gotta focus!"

Her face fell and sobs racked her slight frame. "I know. I know! What am I gonna do Laurie?!" She buried her face in my shoulder and I looked at the ceiling. The room was full of paintings she'd created years ago. Photographs of smiling faces leered like nightmares from freshly dusted frames. On top of everything....Christmas was coming.

People build you up when you have potential. They say, "What great artist. What a powerful writer." But life skills and inner strength aren't things you can really learn. You either have them to back up your talent--or you don't. I knew her paintings would sell--if she had the courage to put them in a gallery. I knew her writings could be published--if she had the balls to send them out. It wasn't that she was an empty shell of a woman. It wasn't that she was pathetic. It was just that life had beaten her down.

It was easy to be witty and charming online or in a classroom--but throw life obstacles at her and she collapses. She was everybody's darling when the party was roaring, but she was nobody's problem when the lights went out. I pushed her back and told her quietly,"I'll help you pack. We'll put your things in storage and you and the kids can stay with me. But you have to find a job. I can't afford to feed everyone."

I wasn't sure how much Sara heard. I watched her walk woodenly over to the Christmas tree. She tenderly fingered an ornament. There were lights strung in the branches, but they remained dark. Daylight was waning and our breath hovered in the air. The kids couldn't sleep there tonight--it was far too cold with the power disconnected. She pulled the angel down from the tree top. "I bought this when I was still married. I thought it was a symbol of hope. I guess I should've stayed with him..." Her words trailed off as her mind wandered. 

"Leaving him was the smartest thing you did! That marriage was toxic and you know it. We make our own hope, Sara. We create it within ourselves or else we lose everything. Now go find some clothes for the kids to wear to school tomorrow." Sara put the angel aside and climbed the steps like a zombie. The fog would clear. Her thoughts would flow and one day she'd be back to herself again. I could only  pray that when that day came she'd be able to forgive herself. It's a helluva thing to try and move forward when you're blanketed in guilt.

I opened an empty box and started to fill it with plates. Wrap the newspaper around the dish and stack it on the previous one. Wrap the newspaper and stack. Wrap and stack. Shit it's cold in here. I touched my cheek. The wetness I found there surprised me. I looked around the room slowly being eaten by shadows. We all want love...but at what cost?